Old Friends

I had a vivid imagination as a kid, in a way that is a lot harder to maintain once you get older and have to devote more and more mental space to the rest of the world. I wasn’t lonely, but I spent quite a bit of time alone. This wasn’t a matter of deprivation at all — I had plenty of friends in the neighborhood, and was typically active, at least as much as a nerdy introvert who didn’t like sports was likely to be. I guess perhaps it feels like I spent so much time alone just because that time was creatively rich.

I invented characters and worlds, built spaceships and house out of boxes and styrofoam packing inserts and Lego and odds and ends. I collected action figures, but ignored who they were “supposed” to be and made them into new characters. Before 1977 my cast was primarily made of Fisher-Price Adventure People, but after 1977, well:

Brother Sister

…there was really no other competition.

This was my cast. What I did with them was a free-for-all mix of everything I soaked up and remixed from Star Wars, other sci-fi, comic books, and elsewhere, but it was definitely these first-generation figures with their stiff arms and legs, soft-focus faces, and colorfully distinct looks that became the physical raw material of my imaginary universe.


I love these photographs from Rather Childish so much because they capture that sense of how these little carefully marketed figures turned into such vivid characters in my imagination. The photos are so affectionate and so filled with drama! They portray that layer of wonder that I added — and I guess most kids add — to the bits of plastic I saw and held in my little hands.

Gold Leader